Division of labor in regards to lore, world building and quality managment.

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Fürst Thal's picture
Fürst Thal
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I would like to propose a new way to look at lore and world development.
This is because currently we have a problem. That is that only a few people currently really know the whole lore and are able to guide the project into the right direction lore wise.

This means that normal devs and even senior and some lead devs are not always able to use all lore available in an satisfactory way.
This could be solved by trying to do some division of labor. 

For instance, lets imagine we divide the regions of mainland Morrowind
and assign people to it whenever these regions become relevant or if we just have them.

These people would have the following requirements:
1. Be active and have time to spare for the job.
2. Be ready to learn a bunch of information and creating new one.
3. Plan on being a long term member of the project.

These people would then to the following thing:
1. Get an overview of the existing stuff of the region and all the planning done to that point.
2. Make sense of the region. Wead out plausible stuff not noticed by other people.
3. Give input on new lore and and new additions to the region( What interiors to place, what NPCs to add,
what interplay between them and what quest could be done or what ideas or potential for quests is there.)
4. Be the go to point for people asking questions about it. For instance questers and NPCers needing information 
and needing to know where to watch out for lore or world inconsistencies.
5. Also be available on meetings that deal with this stuff.

Example:

Imagine I volunteer to take on the Armun Ashlands. I would go into the archives, meetings and handbook to get an overview. I would then thoroughly look into what is in the game, I would look at what dungeons there are and what use they have. Same  for villages and NPCs(names, personalities, relations to other NPCs and stuff.). I would then try to look into what makes sense to delete and what makes sense to add. I would also check for quality and bugs in the region. For instance, to few dungeons are there or too few other stuff that wouldn't make sense lore wise and also not from a world building  perspective. I would also try to write or give ideas for new lore and be in meetings or other discussions to give relevant  input. Inventing names or ideas for geographic regions or features would also be a job for me. I would also make quest ideas and check ideas from others to see if there are problems with them or if they could be improved. If someone would like to know stuff, I would also be the one who would be the go to person then. I would also spend time thinking about what  could make this region more interesting not only from a lore perspective but also from an ingame perspective. For instance adding small  things to the exterior that are memoriable or interesting or just nice additions. All in all I would be the overseer of that region and my responsibility would be to help make it great and logical and an engaging region for the player.

Note that this does not mean that these people are the sole controllers of that region. They just specialise in it. Other people especially lead devs still work on these regions hand in hand with the one specialising in it.

If people agree with this, we could btw make a testing phase for this idea to see if there is any real improvement with it or if it does not work.

Any input on this is appreciated.

The Violet Euphemism's picture
The Violet Euphemism
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My response on the discord: 

I see where you're coming from and generally agree. After all, I'm basically one of the project's specialists already (but for Arena & its lore, not for specific regions). However, if it's approved I'd like to stress that it's better for someone to be a specialist of multiple regions, and share specialty with multiple people, as to not run into a situation where there's only 1 person extremely knowledgeable about an area with the rest just having a cursory idea of what it is.

Rawr.

Jani's picture
Jani
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In a way, this division of labour already exists. Devs who have been working extensively on one area generally have a good overview of it. But I believe that we can't really implement an official framework like the one you're describing for this purpose. You can't get a guarantee from people to stick around for months (years?) and answer questions until their section files get finished. I also have problems with this part of the requirements:
"2. Be ready to learn a bunch of information and creating new one."
This is supposed to be the end goal of the currently ongoing handbook revamp. To become an information hub that devs can use whenever they feel like it. Ideally, it should be good enough to answer all their questions without the need for people.

While I like the parts of your idea that concern actual CS work (and with good implementation, it should work well enough), I think that we should spend the lore-learning effort on writing the handbook. I already have a trove of information to comb through in the form of links to the old forum, and Meriyal and I could really use some help with writing the pages. Devs don't even need to learn HTML coding, as the Region Template can be freely edited.

Kevaar's picture
Kevaar
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I get where this is coming from, but o stall I’m not sure I like the idea. A few points:

—OE and Aanthirin releases have not been typical in that the old team made most of the npcs and groundwork, then disappeared. They were then completed by people who either didn’t know or didn’t bother researching the older plans. 
—As Jani said, this sounds like there’d be less flexibility. This lead poofs and we’re back to square one.

my solution would be getting folks in the habit of posting their questand lore ideas to the asset browser. It’s search function is powerful and I use it to put together questlines for new zones.

Perhaps just as much as the handbook, old plans should start getting transferred into the asset browser. As I am not working on TR as much, another lead person would then need to comb through these entries each region meeting to see what can be used. 

Rats's picture
Rats
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(OE wasn't like that, though. I worked on OE for years and NPC'ed most of city and the castle. As far as old plans and visions are concerned, I think that Old Ebonheart and the Ebon Tower followed them rather faithfully and cohesively.)

FT's suggestion sounds a bit like the old Section system we had in 2014; where a number of section leads would take care of designing and calling the shots on a particular region. I liked this system very much, because it meant I could focus all my energy on one area -- while trusting that a number of equally capable people were dealing with other areas. (Around that time I had even suggested that we should divide all the factions and their respective questlines to be handled by similar teams of 3-5 lead people -- something I wouldn't suggest nowadays.) While I liked the Section system it failed -- and it failed because of the same reasons that Jani and Kevaar raised as a possible concern here. In July 2014 there were four leads in charge of the Old Ebonheart Section: myself, Haplo, gro-Dhal and Swiftoak. About year and a half later three of those people had become inactive and the progress on OE started to drag.